Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Getting Users' Attention in Web Apps in Likeable, Minimally Annoying Ways

our (w/ Josh Hailpern and Anupriya Ankolekar) CHI 2016 paper in hopefully plain english

Why are there still so many pop-ups? Even if you're sure that Your Website Dot Com really desperately needs to show me an ad for lawnmower fuel or a notification that you've updated some incoherent legalese in your terms of service, do you have to blot out my whole screen? Couldn't you do something that people will hate a little less?

So we ran a simple study where we have Mechanical Turk workers play the game Set while we try 15 different ways to get users' attention and then ask them how well they like them.

We found, based on survey questions after they finish the game, that they find some of the attention grabbers more annoying than others, and some of them more noticeable than others. These usually correlate (more noticeable = more annoying) but you can sometimes get a little more noticeable without getting annoying, or vice versa.

We didn't find that certain attention grabbers make people better or worse at Set, or that they make them respond faster, or that they make them remember things better, or that they change the overall usability of the system, or the overall immersion in the game. Probably other things we didn't find too, see the paper.

Based on what we found, it looks like glowing shadows are a little better on average than popups (better = equally noticeable but less annoying), that your popup could be less annoying if it doesn't cover the screen behind it, and that the little message icon with a badge (like on Facebook or Twitter, showing you how many notifications you have) is good for low-interruption needs.

My confidence in the results: low! These are small effects. And you could poke a lot of holes in the study (why these 15 attention grabbers? how will this respond in a real-world situation? did people just kinda like our glowing shadows because they're prettier than some of the other options?) - we point out some of these in the paper. But it's something, and science hopefully progresses by a bunch of tiny steps.

Here's the paper!

1 comment:

  1. People mind modal window a lot less when it's shown at the time of exit.